Intensive Care

The first ten channels on the television in the Super 8 on the Alameda in San Jose were Indian. Bollywood Indian, not tribal Indian. So was the entire staff of the motel, including the studious young man who jiggled the reservations to find us a room that we would take a day earlier than planned without having to change rooms after the first night.  We had planned to come down Friday but when my cousin called and said my sister was “in crisis” we started driving south, badly packed and apprehensive.

My friend Chris did most of the driving while I fretted.  Thinking about my sister,  thinking about when we were kids, thinking about what shape she would be in, or whether she would still be alive,  since my brother-in law’s cell wasn’t responding. When we got to Valley Medical Center, we discovered it was still under construction. We went into three wrong parking lots before finding the right one.  The clerk at the desk was very calm when giving us directions to her room so we figured the news couldn’t be too bad.  When we got to her room my brother-in-law and a cousin were there. My sister had “stabilized” during the night, they said.  She was unrecognizable – breathing mask over her nose, stuck full of needles and cables and hoses, but she could squeeze my hand.

She had been poked in so many places that her skin was mostly blotchy purple. They were concerned about bleeding in her stomach so she couldn’t have liquids. They would let her suck on a sponge,  then five minutes later she’d ask for another. She can’t remember anything but they said this may be temporary. The nurses are wonderful. All the sappy things you’ve heard about nurses being angels is true. They are.

She is restrained so she won’t pull out the nose clip that ‘s feeding her oxygen and the food tube that also goes up her nose. She pulled out the nose thing in just an instant with both me and my brother-in-lay standing right there, she was so quick. At the end of the day they released her from the restraints and a minder or sitter was assigned to watch her overnight. Did I mention this is a wonderful hospital? The next day I stayed with her, mostly making the tiny adjustments to her bedding that become supremely important when you’re bedridden. I dared Chris to find something interesting in San Jose and he called from a Japanese garden that he said was first rate. I couldn’t talk him into going to the Rosicrucian Center, right near the hospital. A couple more family members came by. My sister was more lucid. The crisis had passed. We had a late Japanese dinner near North Fourth Street. It was wonderful.

Monday I had to make the drive back to Eureka. The drive seems longer every time. It occurred to me that I hadn’t seen a haole or Anglo other than our family members for days. 

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